Sibling Rivalries

This week’s column tackles the complexities of sibling relationships. Best friends one minute, trying to knock each other out the next. Read it here.

We’re lucky for the most part… our kids get along pretty well so far. The older two have their moments, but their ratio of friendship to fighting is relatively high. And on the weekend Maliah and Gideon actually ran laps around the kitchen  holding each other’s hands, which was a first (and too cute for words).

The trick is to catch them in the moment before a harmonious playtime suddenly breaks up into a brawl. It always happens quickly: one second they’re fine, then one  says something or takes the exact Lego piece that the other wanted, and suddenly there’s a whole lot of yelling and tears.

As a parent you have to keep a keen lookout for the signs of an impeding implosion, like an old-school fisherman scanning the horizon for an incoming storm. If you’re lucky you can swoop in with a distraction–maybe a snack, a new activity, something to get them apart for a few minutes–and perform an intervention before it all goes pear-shaped.

When the blow-ups come they’re usually intense but brief. This is the good thing about little boys: they get over things pretty quickly. Even if we have to break them up, they usually want to play together again within a few minutes.

The other day I came home and noticed that Oscar had a giant bloody scratch on his face. I asked him what happened, and he just shrugged and said, “Xander hit me with a stick. It was an accident.” And that was that.


One response to “Sibling Rivalries

  1. As a social worker who provided counselling to many, and varied, families for many years, and as a father of 5 (ranging in age from 43 to 18) I have become a fan of your column for a variety of reasons. It’s wonderful to see a father writing about family issues, something usually left to women, and your musings are usually realistic, not sugar-coated. I particularly liked your piece today about the “Kony video”. It wasn’t “knee-jerk” simplistic. Many, many years ago, I found myself in the middle of an African civil war. I remember raging at the very ill informed nature of the press reporting of that situation. It was an awful war (which was reported) but had a nuanced history and cultural context (which was not).

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